A new year means a new beginning, and no one may be more exited for the new chapter to start than newly elected Florida state representatives Anna Eskamani (District 47) and Joy Goff-Marcil (District 30).
It’s been a couple months since the two Democratic representatives were voted in by residents Nov. 6, and already, they both are getting used to the new roles and hearing from constituents.
Both Eskamani and Goff-Marcil have their priorities lined up for their first year in office, and hope to bring change to their districts and the state.
Eskamani already has been busy in her first month as a state representative, attending meetings regarding HIV reduction, mental-health funding, environmental concerns and tiny homes being an opportunity for affordable housing.
“It’s been pretty incredible,” Eskamani said. “I come into the work with 10 years of advocacy experience, with about seven of those walking in the halls of the Legislature advocating for reproductive health issues, advocating for access to health care. For me, it’s a little more familiar terrain to walk through that building, but it’s very different to be the one that has the member pin on.
“It’s such a different opportunity for dialogue and conversation with my legislative colleagues on what are our priorities as a state and where can we find common ground,” she said. “That’s what’s been most compelling for me.”
It’s been a surprise to see just how many requests and discussion points already have come up in the first month, Eskamani said.
“We are getting so many requests, and I think part of it is we knocked on 50,000 doors in the district, and we really want to make sure folks knew who we are and why we’re fighting,” she said. “A natural evolution of that is now you’re elected and people are coming to us with their questions and concerns. My day is packed with back-to-back meetings integrating into my work schedule. It’s navigating all those pieces and just the incredible love and energy from the district alongside folks expressing a question or issue — that’s been really remarkable.”
Although Eskamani enters the state house as a Democratic representative, many of requests from constituents haven’t been about issues that fall on one side of the aisle, she said.
“Many of the issues that we face aren’t partisan in nature,” Eskamani said. “I’ve had three different conversations with stakeholders and constituents primarily focused on regulation … entering the business field wanting the opportunity to expand their business but facing barriers and red tape when it comes to state government.”
One local initiative that Eskamani will focus on is working with the Florida Department of Transportation on accidents occurring on Orange Avenue.
“We’re going to do our part to work with these partners over time to figure out what we can do to reduce accidents,” Eskamani said. “Most of the issues don’t have their partisan angle. They’re just everyday issues that you need a good leader to help solve. I think we’re ready for the task.”
During her term, Eskamani also hopes to tackle mental-health funding, improving public education, creating high-paying jobs and looking at better heath care for all Floridians.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Eskamani, adding that she hopes to focus on fighting against the privatization of public schools and allowing homeowners to pursue their own creation of solar energy during her first year. “I just feel so honored that folks trust us to be that voice and trust us to be the facilitator for good policy and change.”
After serving for about five years on the Maitland City Council, Goff-Marcil now is representing her entire district. It’s a chance of pace, but she can’t wait to get started, she said.
“It was kind of a surreal experience to go to the capital — I was used to Maitland City Hall, so the capital is a little bit of a different building,” Goff-Marcil said, laughing.
“The whole thing was very interesting, and everybody was very nice.”
Goff-Marcil said it’s been exciting to hear from the constituents about the legislation they hope to see in Florida.
“I haven’t figured out which six bills that I’m going to sponsor, so that’s what I’m doing right now — I’m doing a lot of research and trying to figure it out,” she said. “There’s certain things that I want to do, and then there’s certain things that I know are a possibility of happening, so that’s where I’m weighing the scales. As a freshman, you can’t just come in and change everything. You have to see if you can make a little change, and if you can do that, that’s a huge accomplishment.”
Some issues are new to Goff-Marcil, but education remains one of her biggest priorities, she said.
“We need people going to technical school and learning a trade and getting into the work force that way, because not everyone can go to college and succeed and get a job — there’s not enough jobs for all those people that want to be in academia,” Goff-Marcil said. “There’s definitely an interest in moving that way, and the community colleges are getting involved
“That’s something I think where I can make a difference in this first term, and then also just stopping the continuation of going toward privatization of public schools,” she said. “It’s the accountability really. They’re not accountable at the same level as the public schools, and that means that not everyone is getting a quality education. We have to work on that.”
She also plans to look at environmental bills that would preserve water quality, as well as support Home Rule within local municipalities.
“I fought for (Home Rule) on our City Council, and I want to do that at the legislative level,” Goff-Marcil said.